Keep Your Damn Hands to Yourself: Greg Gianforte Is a Criminal

It’s been a while since I checked in, so here’s a brief rundown of the C. Toporek solo zeitgeist from the mid-year standpoint. Wicker furniture, paisleys, open shelving: still a strong no. Comic books, coffee, Oxford comma: consistently enthusiastic thumbs up.

Friends, I may not be the absolute best choice for bridge-building. I wonder if I should add that to my CV? I have a tendency toward pedantry, which is to say I like to lecture and I always think I’m right. When it comes to reaching across divides and uniting the ideologically polarized, I’m not your girl. My fall-back position in a debate is frothing rage.

I am, however, a strong believer in the philosophy of “using your words,” and I have something to say about the incident in which Montana’s new Representative, Greg Gianforte, attacked a reporter from the Guardian named Ben Jacobs on Thursday, May 25, 2017.

I’m not even going to address the chilling implications of a representative of the American people exhibiting such hostility to the press, although those implications are real.

Instead, as someone who grew up in a household with physical abuse, I will say without equivocation that Gianforte’s behavior is appalling. Neither his party nor his political views or allegiances make any difference to this issue.

There are no excuses along the lines of boys being boys, or being red-blooded, or any such weak nonsense. If you are cool with people punching you in the face as part of normal interaction when you happen to get on their nerves, you have my blessing; vaya con Dios. But no one gets to make that decision for anyone else.

This was assault, and it’s illegal. The fact that it was perpetrated by an authority figure makes the behavior even more egregious. Kids on the playground know better, and so should grown adults. Gianforte stated today, “That’s not the person I am,” but it seems pretty clear that’s EXACTLY the person he is. It’s not like he’s learned and grown in 24 hours. The only thing that changed is that he got what he wanted: he won the election. It kind of makes the apology worthless, not to mention disingenuous.

I have no patience for bullies. It’s the laziest way to engage with other people that exists: you don’t have to listen or think; you don’t have to recognize anyone’s humanity. You just yell louder and hit harder and shut them up. It is unacceptable to use physical means to threaten, silence, intimidate, or injure.

It is not a partisan concept to realize that it is never okay to attack someone. It’s the behavior of a thug–in fact, it’s a criminal act. It means you have a serious problem.

Keep your damn hands to yourself, Greg Gianforte.